December 21, 2022
We’re excited to announce the $10,000 November Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Brittany Dye, Owner of Brittany’s Bees. She is the November qualifier for the 2022 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).
Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Brittany for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.
WomensNet: Hi everyone. Welcome to a conversation with our Amber Grant winner for November, 2022. Today, we have the pleasure of chatting with Brittany Dye, owner of Brittany’s Bees.
I’m Marcia Layton Turner, and I’m one of several WomensNet Advisory Board members. So, Brittany, welcome. Thank you for talking with me.
Brittany: Morning, Marcia. It’s great to be here.
WomensNet: Let’s start at the beginning here with your business. Tell me about Brittany’s Bees. How did you get into beekeeping and how is it now a business?
Brittany: So I got into beekeeping pretty randomly. I was in my early twenties, not sure what I was gonna do with my life. And I took a job through a group of friends as a beekeeper. So no family history… and I absolutely fell in love with it. And, I continued to do that for about 10 years and traveled the world beekeeping between New Zealand and Australia.
And then around my thirties I decided I’d try and start having my own bees. So I bought 10 hives and those 10 turned into 20 and 20 turned into 60, and now I have 200. So it’s really exciting.
Now what we do as a business is we provide pollination services. These are contracts where we move bees in and they pollinate almond trees, cherries, apples, asparagus… the list goes on. And then we also sell the byproducts. So that would be honey, beeswax candles, chapstick. So yeah, there’s a lot that goes into it.
WomensNet: Do you physically move the hives to, say, an apple orchard?
Brittany: Yeah, so what we do is either by hand or a forklift, we’ll put ’em on a truck and move them at night when all the bees are at home. And then in the morning or evening, we drop them off in these orchards so then they can start pollinating them.
WomensNet: How long are they on site when you offer that service?
Brittany: Typically about three to four weeks. And then they might go to another pollination contract or into honey producing fields.
WomensNet: So you’ve really grown from nothing to more than 200 hives. What do you think has been the secret to your success? What did you do right along the way, even though maybe you didn’t have any experience?
Brittany: I think a lot of it was determination and drive. I mean, I truly love my job. It makes me really happy to go out into a field and open up a beehive. You can smell the honey, and I truly enjoy it. So that growth was pretty natural. And I think just really pushing myself and always trying to keep a positive attitude. I think that there’s some tough days and you think it’s not gonna succeed. And if you just keep learning from that and pushing through it… I think that’s been a huge part of it.
WomensNet: I have another follow up question about the hives. You’ve managed to grow, so does that mean that there’s a hive capacity? So when the hive gets too many bees, you can split it? How does that work?
Brittany: Correct. So typically what we do is in the spring, the hives are starting to grow and build again. The queen is laying and they start to run out of room. And then what we do is we split those hives in half. That’s how we build our numbers.
Typically you have some losses in the winter, and so that’s how you can kind of make up for those losses and keep building. And hives naturally want to swarm. So what we’re doing is trying to get in the middle of that and prevent that.
WomensNet: So interesting. So you’re growing very steadily, it sounds like. So now that you’ve won the $10,000 Amber Grant, what are some of your plans for how you’re going to put that money to use?
Brittany: So the plan with the $10,000 is to purchase equipment that will help me become more efficient. For example, I’ve been extracting and probably should have been done in September, October, and I’m still finishing up now…that’s just because we’ve been running into complications with motors not working, or overflows.
So, to hopefully become more efficient, and then that way we can do more and build the business bigger.
WomensNet: And when you say extracting, you’re extracting honey?
Brittany: Yes, correct.
WomensNet: So let’s talk a little bit about the future. You’ve grown to more than 200 hives. Where are you headed in, say, three to five years?
Brittany: Yeah, I think that each year is new. You know, when I first started this I thought, I’m just gonna sell honey in bulk. I’m not gonna mess around with little jars. And here I am — I’m doing a farmer’s market probably every other weekend. And I have bottled honey, and gift boxes and… so it’s really gone in a direction that I didn’t foresee.
It’ll be really amazing to see what the growth is in the next few years. We would love to get into some more local stores and build the beehives up to where this can be a full-time job.
WomensNet: What’s some advice that you might give to an aspiring female entrepreneur or someone who’s, you know, where you were 10 years ago, just getting started? What do you think?
Brittany: Well, I’ve definitely been thinking about this question a lot. And I keep coming back to this past weekend. I had to move bees. I had to put ’em on a truck and move bees to California in preparation for the almond pollination in late February. And so Thursday I started loading these bees and everything was going wrong. I was in tears. I was thinking I was a failure. I’m not gonna be able to succeed…
And then we got the bees loaded, we got ’em to California, they’re flying around 60 degree weather and they’re happy and healthy…and everything felt okay again. So my advice would be that even though there might be these really low points where you just feel like you aren’t gonna be able to get there…you just have to get through it and get through the next day and just keep pushing. If you’re passionate and you love your career, then it will come.
WomensNet: Great advice. Thank you so much for your time and sharing your story with us all. Just so fascinating. And congratulations again on winning the Amber Grant for November.
Brittany: Thank you so much.